The past month has brought unprecedented changes for business owners of all size.  The economic uncertainty that comes with state and country shutdowns and mandated quarantines has forced many business owners to adjust how they run their companies to keep them open during the coronavirus pandemic. We reached out and asked several of our WBE (Women’s Business Enterprise) Board Members on how they have responded to the crisis, as well as advice or tips they have for other female business owners during this time.

Sharon Evans is the CEO of CFJ Manufacturing, a brand promotions and manufacturing company which has been a certified WBE for 23 years and is one of our 25th Anniversary Signature Sponsors. She is also an Ex-Officio Board Member for WBCS. After realizing the potential her manufacturing division had for producing medical masks, she collaborated with other suppliers who could produce hand sanitizers, thermometers and medical coveralls, all which were FDA and CE certified. She reached out to their clients to find out if they had needs for these items, and immediately started receiving orders from around the country.

“We found that some of our large corporate clients wanted to buy masks in order to donate them to hospitals. We have upped our production and hope to be able to keep up with keep up production for those that have needs.  I am very proud of my fulfillment department and my uniform group as they are working to make this happen.   All of them are 6 feet apart and wearing mask but they are still coming in to help during this time!”

Betty Manetta is the CEO of Argent Associates, which provides products, services, and supply chain solutions to enterprise and government customers and has been a certified WBE for 18 years. She is currently a WBCS Board Member, active in the WBCS Women of Color Committee, and was a 2019 WBENC Star. Below she offers some practical tips she has been using to reduce costs in her business operations.

  • Ask your landlord for deferral of rent for 120 days
  • Ask for deferral of lease payments for vehicles, forklifts, copy machines, etc. Get creative!
  • Relook at your insurance to make sure you’re not paying more, or if you can negotiate lower rates
  • Consider a 10-20% pay cut for employees the next three months, and then recover as business stabilizes
  • Look in to temporarily lowering company contributions for employees’ medical insurance
  • Apply for loans and grants from SBA, 7A, etc. Do it early and do it now!
  • Reach out to your corporate customers to see if they can change to net 30 payments or less over the next 3 months, instead of net 60 or 90.

Rachel Sanchez is the CEO of Prestige Maintenance USA, Ltd, which has been certified for 15 years. She is a WBCS Board Member, and was a 2019 WBE of the Year award winner! Her most important advice is that cash flow is crucial for small businesses to survive during this time.  She is adding additional services for her company to offer, and also gave the below example for how she negotiated new payment terms with a large client.

“I approached our largest client, who is also a WBENC Corporate member, and explained how important getting cash in my business is right now. We were on 60 day payment terms, and within 24 hours they got back to me with an approval to move us to 30 days. It is a big relief and will help as we try and weather many other demands.”

Click here for an up-to-date list of resources for business owners during the COVID-19 pandemic.